Serving at the Bedside

To those who may never have been sick, I would like to emphasize the mental and spiritual at­titude of the sick person.

By D. S. RAUSTEN, M.D., C.M.E., 1439, Niobrara, Nebraska

To those who may never have been sick, I would like to emphasize the mental and spiritual at­titude of the sick person. Sickness takes us aside and sets us up alone with God. We are taken into His private chamber, and there He converses with us face to face. The world is afar off; our relish for it is gone, and we are alone with Him. Many are the words of grace and truth which He then speaks to us. All our former props are struck away, and we must lean on God alone. The things of earth are felt to be vanity.

There is something in sickness that lowers the pride of manhood, that softens the heart and brings it back to the feeling of infancy Who is it that has languished in sickness, even in ad­vanced life, and has not thought of the mother who watched over his childhood, who smoothed his pillow and administered to his helplessness? When a man is laboring under the pain of a dis­ease, it is then that he recollects that there is a God and that he himself is but a man. No mortal is then the object of his envy, admiration, or con­tempt ; and having no malice to gratify, he is not excited by tales of slander.

Sickness unveils to a man his own heart. It shows him the need there is for sympathy and love between man and man. Thus disease, opening his eyes to the realities of life, is an indirect blessing. One who has never known a day's ill­ness is lacking in at least one feature of moral culture. He has not entered into one of the great­est lessons of his life. He has missed the finest lecture in that great school of humanity—the sick­room.

Sickness or disease generally begins that equal­ity which death completes. The distinctions which set one man so much above another are very little perceived in the gloom of a sickroom. There it will be vain to expect entertainment from the gay and instruction from the wise. There all human glory is obliterated; the wit is clouded, the mind perplexed, and the hero subdued. There the high­est and brightest of mortal beings finds nothing of real worth left but the consciousness of his own background.

Sickness brings a share of blessing with it. What stores of love and human sympathy it re­veals! What constant, affectionate care is ours ! What kindly greetings from friends and associ­ates! This very loosening of our hold upon life calls out such a wealth of human sympathy that life seems richer than before.

Then, as time goes on, sickness teaches humil­ity. Our absence is scarcely noticed. We are separated completely from the noisy, restless world; yet our place is filled and all moves on without us. So we learn that at last, when we shall sink forever beneath the waves of the sea of life, there will be but one ripple, and the current will move steadily on.

It is on the bed of sickness that we fully realize the value of good health. Sickness is poor in spirit and cannot serve anyone, but health is one of the greatest blessings we are capable of enjoy­ing. Money cannot buy it; therefore value it and be thankful for it. Health is above all gold and treasures. He that has health has little more to wish for, and he that has it not lacks everything. It is beyond price, since it is through health that money is procured. Thousands of dollars, and even millions, are small recompense for loss of health. Poverty is indeed an evil from which we naturally flee; but let us not run from one enemy to a worse one, which is assuredly the lot of those who exchange poverty for sickness, even though accompanied by wealth.

In no situation and under no circumstances does human character appear to better advantage than when observed in the event of sickness. The help­lessness and weakness of the sickroom makes a most effective appeal to the charity and natural kindness in the hearts of all. Thus it appears that sickness not only is of discipline to the sick one but also serves to bring to a more perfect growth the flowers of charity and kindness inherent in the hearts of those who care for the sick.

It is on the sickbed that the heart learns most completely the value of self-examination. Life passes before the patient as a gliding panorama. How strong are the resolutions formed for the future ! Only God and the angels know how many lives have been turned from evil courses to the right, snatched as brands from the burning, who can date their progress in the good and true modes of living from a bed of sickness.

Then let us be patient in sickness. Let us turn it to account in the bettering of our hearts, and thus may we reap from seeming evil that which will conduce in no small degree to our ultimate happiness.

Health is not negative. Health means more than simply keeping out of a physician's office. It is a positive condition of the body which gives us a long life of zest and buoy­ancy. . . .

Medical research made one of its greatest con­tributions to human welfare when it began to produce positive evidence that improper or inade­quate food, and a consequent state of poor nutri­tion, is the underlying cause of many diseases. Not only were organic diseases so identified, but poor nutrition was found to interfere with the proper working of the bodies of man and his ani­mals.

Sickness produced by deficient foodstuffs was found, for the most part, to be chronic and crip­pling in character to both mind and body. We are coming to realize that chronic sickness due to faulty nutrition is the largest single factor in the lives of literally millions of the people who con­sult us but who do not, however, exhibit organic disease. They are simply poorly nourished and do not have their natural vitality. They have little or no vigor. They do have, as a consequence, an increased susceptibility to all kinds of infec­tions and degenerative diseases. How to restore these chronically half-sick people to robust health before it is too late is a fundamental social prob­lem.

This problem is not one of the redistribution of pills. It makes little difference who gives what colored pill to whom. What I am trying to say is that no plan of voluntary or compulsory sickness insurance will solve this problem. It is purely a matter of prevention through education, and sound nutrition and proper eating must become popular through education.—Journal of the American Med­ical Association, Oct. 7, 1944, pp. 331, 332.

Despite still large gaps in our knowledge as to the exact requirements and functions of many of the specific nutrients during pregnancy, there can be little doubt that nutrition of the pregnant woman is sufficiently important to normal growth and development of the fetus and the health of the mother to warrant an important place in all prenatal care programs. That proper nutrition during pregnancy is an important factor in reduc­ing the incidence of stillbirths and early neonatal deaths has not been widely appreciated. If a good diet is a safety factor to the mother and preventive of certain forms of toxemia, that alone is ex­tremely important, since toxemia is still one of the major causes of maternal mortality during preg­nancy and an important cause of fetal mortality, premature births, and neonatal deaths. The bene­fits which may be derived from effective and in­telligent nutrition teaching during pregnancy are overwhelmingly in favor of making this informa­tion a part of all prenatal care. Bethell says : "The prevalence of suboptimal nutrition, as measured by present standards, and the degree of improvement after dietary instruction testify to the value of nu­tritional evaluation and therapy as a part of pre­natal care for the population at large as well as for the distinctly underprivileged in large cities." —Journal of the American Dietetic Association, December,

Vitamin Retention in Canned Vegetables.—Retentions of ascorbic acid, thiamine, and ribo­flavin were determined in two types of small-scale preparations of canned vegetables for serving: one in which the liquid in the can was concentrated and retained; the other in which liquid was drained off after heating. The canned products studied were green beans, Lima beans, carrots, yellow corn, peas, spinach, and tomatoes. . . .

Conclusions made regarding vitamin retentions are as follows : Ascorbic acid loss was variable in the preparations in which liquids were concen­trated, i.e., from around zo per cent in green beans to about 6o per cent in carrots. But for each vegetable prepared by both methods, the total loss was decidedly greater when the liquid was dis­carded. There was no loss of ascorbic acid in tomatoes for which all of the liquid was retained but not concentrated.

No thiamine or riboflavin was lost by destruc­tion in either method, but approximately 30 to 40 per cent of these two vitamins was lost when liq­uids were discarded.—Journal of the American Dietetic Association, January, 1945, p. 10.

Destruction of Riboflavin in Milk.—Ribo­flavin was destroyed to the extent of 9 to 16 per cent during pasteurization, from 5 to 8 per cent during vitamin D enrichment by irradiation, and from 3 to 5 per cent during bottling and brief storage preceding delivery. It has previously been shown that up to 66 per cent of the riboflavin is destroyed if milk is exposed for 2 hours to direct sunlight.--Journal of the American Dietetic Asso­ciation, January, 1945, p. 42.


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By D. S. RAUSTEN, M.D., C.M.E., 1439, Niobrara, Nebraska

March 1945

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